Kensal Rise Library to be sold to developers

Kensal Rise Library will be sold for flats, after its owner, All Souls College, Oxford, decided to reject the bid of campaigners who wanted to save the building for the community.

However, the college has offered a compromise plan which will allow the Friends of Kensal Rise Library to operate a library service from an area of the ground floor of the building.

Tom Seaman, estates bursar of All Souls, said: “The college is pursuing a sale of the building to developers, but we are also pursuing a solution that will see a library service in the Kensal Rise community in perpetuity.” He said the college had been convinced by the campaigner’s insistence that there should be a library service in the area, after they raised more than £80,000 in donations to create a business plan.

Margaret Bailey, a member of the campaign, said she was disappointed by the outcome. She said: “We are disappointed and a bit surprised. They decided to go with a property developer who wants to put in flats on the top floors and ground floor. We have been offered a limited space.

“My understanding when we met with the college in August was that they did not want to put in flats. We had been approached by developers with similar suggestions, and could have tailored our bid if we had known it would be well received.”

She added: “We don’t want a reduced service. Our campaign is still to save Kensal Rise Library, and that campaign is still ongoing.” She said they would continue meeting to reach a solution.

Kensal Rise was closed by Brent Council last year as part of cost-saving measures. The building was originally donated by All Souls to the council in 1900 on the condition it be used as a library. It was opened by Mark Twain.

After its closure, the Friends of Kensal Rise Library group made plans to open it as a community-run facility, and set out to raise £70,000 to put forwards a proposal to the college, a target which they beat by more than £10,000.